Success for an artist can be a dangerous thing. Just ask Robert Indiana. In the early 1960s, he was a leading light of the new Pop Art trend, along with Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Roy Lichtenstein. Then came disastrous mega-success. His 1966 images of big, blocky letters spelling the work “Love” — the “o” suggestively tilted — went viral. In the subsequent decade, his overproduction of the image in two and three dimensions, including his design for a 1973 United States postage stamp, eventually ruined his reputation in the serious New York Art world. Disheartened, in 1978 he exiled himself to the island of Vinalhaven in Maine, where, at 85, he continues to live.
It is a blessing, then, for Mr. Indiana and for New York art fans that the shockingly exciting exhibition “Robert Indiana: Beyond Love,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, puts his love works in a broader perspective.